Defense minister George Fernandes made it clear that India will not pull back its troops from the borders with Pakistan until General Musharraf translates his words into ''concrete action'' on the ground. The onus is now on the Pakistani President to ''act fast'' to deliver on his commitments. ''The mobilization of Indian forces at the border is complete and any effort at de-escalation can come only, and I repeat only, if and when cross-border terrorism is effectively stopped,'' said Fernandes on the eve of his visit to the US. Can't expect much yet. If Musharraf can hold it together through a crackdown on the psychoceramics things'll get better. But India's probably still got as much chance of facing a religious loon as Musharraf's successor sometime soon.
Government officials say they envisage a step-by-step process of rapprochement, should Musharraf persist on his reform course. ''We will not be wanting for a response whenever Pakistan does anything positive, but we will not stick our necks out either,'' says a senior Cabinet minister. Yeah. Don't take it too fast, and lend a hand when you can. The fundos are a significant minority in Pakland, but they're not that big a minority. The Paks really should think "secular," though. That's their ultimate salvation.
At least 254 offices of four banned religious militant groups have so far been sealed and 533 activists arrested in the Punjab. Good haul. The Bad Guys say the number was higher, but they tell lies even when they don't have to.
A Pakistani Muslim cleric said President Pervez Musharraf's sweeping crackdown on religious extremism was sowing the seeds of Islamic revolution. Maulana Abdul Aziz, imam of Islamabad's main Red Mosque, said while there had been no immediate backlash to Musharraf's crackdown, announced on a Saturday, a reaction was brewing. "This government is paving the way for Islamic revolution by creating hurdles for the Islamic parties. There may not be instant reaction but they will respond once dust is settled," the preacher said of Musharraf's decision to ban five militant Muslim groups, including two fighting Indian forces in Kashmir. Here's hoping he continues his rant in jail soon. But we suspect the worst he'll get is house arrest.
"Jihad runs in our blood, and it can't be eliminated just by banning few groups in the country," said Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of the Afghan Defense Council, a coalition of 35 pro-Taliban Islamic militant groups. He called on all Muslims to join in an anti-government demonstration Jan. 27 in Peshawar. Hell, yeah! Jihad's lots more fun than getting a job and working for a living and being a good citizen. And it pays more, when you're a mullah. If you're really lucky, you can make your country just like Afghanistan was.
Syed Ali Geelani, a prominent Jamiat-i-Islami leader and former chairman of the All-Pakistan Hurriyat Council, said, ''It is encouraging to note that Pakistan would continue to offer political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris.'' Senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq categorically rejected Musharraf's declaration that Pakistan would not allow extremists to perpetuate terrorism in the name of ''Kashmir struggle''.
''Musharraf's declaration would not prevent Kashmiris from carrying on the 'freedom struggle', he said. Hurriyat conduits in Pakistan have also informed its leadership in Srinagar to lie low following Musharraf's speech. Meanwhile, besides arresting four middle-level Hurriyat leaders, in Srinagar and Anantnag, police raided the houses of Hurriyat leaders. Police also searched the houses of two relatives of senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Buchpora. The Paks are now implementing the much-needed crackdown. Hopefully it'll continue.
Even if Pakistan follows up on its President's declaration against supporting terrorism, an immediate end to militancy in the Valley is unlikely. Laskhar-e-Taiba and other Pakistan-based militant outfits have reiterated their resolve to continue the ''holy war'' in Jammu and Kashmir. Army sources point out the ammunition dumped by the militants over the past 12 years will help them carry on for six more months at least even if Pakistan actually stops sending consignments of arms and ammunition to militants. According to a Laskhar militant Abdul Majid alias Batta, there are about 2,000 young boys in the LeT ranks operating here, who are indoctrinated to the extent that they would kill even their parents to carry out their Amir's (leaders) orders. If the Bad Guys let up at all, they're finished. Right now they're probably trying real hard to find more funding - assuming the ISI really cuts them off.
Secretary General of Pakistan Muslim League Saranjam Khan has said that Gen Pervez Musharraf had strengthened the weak and anaemic case of the terrorist state of India by succumbing to her unjust demands. Ummm. Yep. We can put him down in the "no" column.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir offered to temporarily stop bombing rebel positions for four weeks in a meeting with former Sen. John Danforth, President Bush's special envoy to the conflict. "We offered to declare a voluntary, unilateral cessation of aerial bombing for four weeks as a test," Bashir's top adviser on the conflict, Ghazi Salah el-Din Atabani said. Atabani said he hoped the move would "prepare the atmosphere for a comprehensive cease-fire." U.S. officials in Danforth's delegation were skeptical. Are he trying to make the point that just because he practices slavery he's still not in the same category as the Taliban? US prestige would appear to be up.
An Israeli soldier was killed in ambush and his officer was injured Monday hours after a Palestinian militant accused of killing at least nine Israelis died in a bomb explosion. The flare-up follows the death of Raed Mahmoud Raaf Carmi, 27, chief of Fatah's armed wing in Tul Karem. Carmi was killed when a bomb exploded near his car while he was walking in the street. Palestinian Information Minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said the attack "represents a new escalation. It is an invitation by the Israeli government for a suicide attack. This is more playing with fire. This is a clear representation of the intentions of (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon and his government."
Israel Radio quoted Fatah's al Aksa Brigades as assuming responsibility for the soldier's death and saying the cease-fire was cancelled because of the attack on Carmi. Israeli officials did not assume responsibility for Carmi's death -- one of them terming it a "work accident," a euphemism for having a bomb go off prematurely and killing the person building the bomb or planting it -- but said it proves the Palestinians lied when they said he was in custody. More background noise killings. Life's so boring when when a cease-fire is in effect. Can't prove your manhood without potting a few Jews now and then.
The U.S. military now holds almost 450 "extremely dangerous" prisoners, 20 of them at Guantanamo. Another 30 prisoners are en route to the jail, comprised of a series of open 6-by-8-foot cells. U.S. Marines and Army soldiers have 361 "detainees" at Kandahar and 52 in Bagram. Even more important than the detritus of al-Qaeda are all those notes, papers, computers and phone lists they're picking up.
The United States said it was investigating reports that an American citizen had been kidnapped in Afghanistan and was being held hostage. "The details are unclear. The Bureau of Consular Affairs is in touch with the American's supposed wife, and with Embassy Islamabad," a State Department spokeswoman said. War's over. Let's get back to the traditional business of the country.
U.S. special forces will join the Philippine military in operations against Muslim guerrillas, but will limit themselves to advice and will not take part in combat. The operation, billed as a joint exercise, will be the first significant military expansion of Washington's war against terrorism beyond Afghanistan. In line with curbs in the Philippine constitution, the special forces and other U.S. troops supporting them will not go into battle themselves against the rebels. Not a good place to be, but the PI will be better off without Abu Sayyaf. They seem to be doing a good enough job themselves against the Moro National Liberation Front. Unless they can line up new funding, both groups should be slowly evaporating within the next six months.
The U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa tightened security and suspended some services after the Yemeni government passed on information suggesting "an increased terrorist threat." Yemeni authorities deployed extra police around the embassy and closed off some nearby streets after a caller told embassy staff that the mission and U.S. citizens would be attacked. A State Department official said the threat was linked to al Qaeda. The remnants will need to have some sort of a hit in the near future just to convince the jihadis that they're still alive and operating.
Indian troops shot dead 13 "freedom fighters" including two alleged Dutch gunmen. Indian security forces claimed that two of the slain militants were from the Netherlands and said they were gunned down after they attacked a patrol in Srinagar. "Armed with knives the two attacked a BSF patrol party, injuring two of our men," an Indian army spokesman said. "Alert BSF personnel guarding the gate of the hotel shot the two dead." The BSF identified them as "el-Bakiolli Ahmed" and "el-Hussuowi Khaliq" and said they held Dutch passports. Five members of Kashmir's Hizbul Mujahideen group were also shot dead in separate gunbattles in southern Kashmir. Two of them were from Pakistan. Six other gunmen were killed in other fights in the area. That's the stuff. Keeping on shooting and knifing. Import a few outside gunnies. And then sit around and try to figure out why the government's cracking down on you just for bringing the nation to the brink of nuclear war.
Three Britons are among suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban prisoners being held by US forces on Cuba. Six more Britons suspected of links to the Taleban or al-Qaeda in Afghanistan are reportedly being sent to the camp. Enjoy your Caribbean vacation boys. Don't have too many Bahama Mamas!
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.